Non-traditional dads deserve recognition on Fathers Day

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We have heard the saying, "Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy."

And some men - like Brian Bartolotto of Bluffton - don't have biological children but step up to the plate to serve as "daddies."

Bartolotto's wife, Amy, said he had always wanted children and even considered adopting before they married 19 years ago.

He then had the opportunity to be stepfather to her two children and now plays the roles of father and grandfather to his wife's grandson, Aiden.

"He treated my kids like they were his own, even though their father was in the picture, but they got along very well and always put the kids' needs first," Amy said.

The Bartolottos took custody of Aiden when he was only about 3 months old. Both his parents had problems with drugs and could not care for him, Amy said. Unfortunately, Aiden's father died of an overdose in 2014.

Amy said Brian was nervous when Aiden first came to live with them. He had never even changed a diaper before. He loved holding and feeding the baby and fell in love with little Aiden right away.

Aiden, who is now 7, calls Brian "Pappy," and the two are like peas in a pod. They enjoy looking for shark teeth, riding four wheelers and dirt bikes, going mud bogging and working on projects around the house together.

Aiden helped Brian build a deck, and the two have worked for more than a year on putting together a huge Lego village on the family's dining room table. Brian takes Aiden to Taekwondo classes, and every now and then the two have a "boys' night out" and get massages and haircuts together.

Amy said Brian works long hours running their business, East Coast Seamless Gutters, but makes sure to always be home when Aiden gets home from school.

"I really don't know what we would do without Brian," Amy said. "He makes sure Aiden has everything he needs and a lot of what he wants."

Amy said it can be difficult to be a grandparent and a parent at the same time because grandparents like to spoil their grandchildren, and parents need to discipline their children. But she said her husband does an excellent job at being both a father and grandfather to Aiden.

Aiden certainly seems to agree. He has even asked to legally change his last name to Bartolotto.

Amy said Brian has given Aiden the chance for a much better future than he would've had without him in his life.

"He is the best father our grandson could have," Amy said. "We are so thankful to have him in our lives."

Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.

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